Keeping Your Pets Safe From Household & Party Hazards

With Valentine’s Day just having passed, we are reminded that there are a number of household and party hazards that we should be keeping out of our pets’ way. Sometimes we don’t even realize that these things are [in fact] hazards!

Here are some things you should be careful with:


Every pet owner should know that chocolate is very toxic to dogs and cats. The ingredient in chocolate that is dangerous to our furry friends is called theobromine. The general rule is the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more theobromine is contained, and therefore the higher the toxicity. This means that semi-sweet chocolate, bakers chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic, but this by no means suggests that milk chocolate and white chocolate are not dangerous for our pets to ingest as well. You should always keep all chocolate products, including chocolate dipped treats and baked goods, out of reach of your pets. Symptoms of chocolate ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, tremors, seizures and collapse. If you saw or suspect your pet of ingesting chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately with the name of the product, type of chocolate, approximate amount they ingested, and their weight. It is also a big help to your vet if you bring in the packaging the treat came in.


Many pet owners don’t know that most sugar free candies and gums contain large amounts of an artificial sweetener that is extremely toxic to pets called xylitol. Even a small amount, like one single piece of sugar free gum, can be very dangerous to your dog or cat. It can cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and in severe cases, liver failure. Read the ingredients on any sugar free treats you on holidays and keep all xylitol products away from pets.


There are hundreds of flowers and plants that are toxic to dogs, cats or both. One flower that is popular in many bouquets and that is fatally poisonous to our kitties is lilies. Even the smallest amounts can cause upset stomach and vomiting, and larger amounts can cause kidney failure within a day or two. It is best not to have any lilies in the home whatsoever. Even if you put them out of reach of your feline friend, they will eventually start to wilt and the petals will start falling off into your cat’s path. Not to mention that there aren’t many heights and surfaces in the home that your curious cat can’t get to. Signs of lily ingestion include drooling, inappetance, and lethargy within a few hours leading to increased thirst and urination.

Another flower to be careful is roses. If your pet ingests a rose, they will likely get some GI upset. However, their thorns pose a bigger risk. You should always make sure your roses have their thorns removed before bringing them into your home and around your pets. They can very easily chew or step on a thorn and cause trauma and injury, and also transmit infection. If your pet is drooling, doesn’t want to eat or is pawing at their mouth, they may have been chewing on a thorny rose and injured themselves. Remember, ALWAYS dethorn your roses!

For a full list of toxic and non-toxic plants and flowers, visit the ASPCA’s website here:


It is understandable if you have a glass or two of champagne to celebrate many occasions. But, be sure to not leave half full glasses of wine or liquor around the home, and clean up any spills immediately. It doesn’t take a lot of alcohol to harm your pets. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, lack of coordination, and difficulty breathing. Severe alcohol toxicity can cause respiratory failure, so it is very important to keep an eye on your drink at all times.


Presentation can be important with some gifts givers. But if your gifts are wrapped with ribbons or string, throw away the wrapping after opening. Cats are known for playing with strings and ribbons and often ingesting them. They can get caught in their throat or their intestines, which is extremely dangerous and requires surgery to remove. If you see a string or ribbon sticking out of your pet’s bum, never attempt to pull it out, as it could get caught and cause the intestines to rip open. Without surgery, string ingestion is often fatal for our poor kitties.


This one is pretty obvious, but if candles are part of your celebration plans, keep an eye on your pets! They can easily knock over a candle and cause a house fire. They may try to curiously sniff or paw at the flame, and burn their poor little noses or paw pads, or catch their fur on fire. NEVER leave your pet alone around an open flame!

Written by:  Stephanie, RVT